The Co-operative Bank of Kenya was named the best financier of small and medium enterprises (SME) in Africa at the Global SME Finance Awards 2023 held recently.
The lender won the Gold Award for the SME Financier Of The Year in Africa ahead of NMB of Tanzania, which got Silver Award and Kenya’s Equity Bank, which came third with a Platinum Award. Co-op Bank was also recognized with an Honorable Mention in the “Product Innovation of the Year” category.
The awards were announced on Thursday 15th September at the Global SME Finance Forum at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Mumbai, India.
“In collaboration with IFC and other partners, we have taken time to listen, study and build a most competitive value proposition for SMEs intended to support them realise the goals they have set for themselves,” said Co-op Bank CEO, Dr Gideon Muriuki.
Dr Muriuki added: “And we are very encouraged by the successful outcomes we continue to see in the marketplace. This award is for Kenyan SMEs too.”
Organised by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, the Global SME Finance Awards 2023 recognise financial institutions and fintech companies for their outstanding achievements in delivering exceptional products and services to their SME clients.
Co-op Bank, which is majority-owned by the co-operative societies, is a big lender to SMEs owing to its strong ties to the agricultural sector.
The bank recently announced it took Sh12.6 billion worth of long-term loans from institutional investors to bolster its capital as well as support increased lending to small businesses.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a lot of SMEs take hit from the stringent, European Investment Bank (EIB) extended 40 million euros (Sh6.3 billion) to the Co-op Bank to provide working capital and long-term local currency loans to such businesses.